top of page

Managing Performance in Difficult and Distressing Times

Dr. Lee Kang Yam

Chief Learning Curator | Flame Centre

Feeling distress during difficult times

A recent letter by the Chairman of Sinosteel to its employees stated that 2023 is the most challenging year since the company's founding. Interest rates will remain ‘higher for longer’, which means funding will be more expensive and scarcer. The economic standoff between the USA and China shows no signs of abating, which means fewer investments to spur growth. The Russia-Ukraine conflict continues, which will affect the economy in Europe. This has resulted in a bleak outlook for the three main economic engines of the world - the USA, China and Europe.

How do leaders and managers manage performance in these difficult and distressing times?

There are two main ways for companies to thrive: increase revenue and reduce costs. Companies must develop new strategies and innovate to thrive and achieve economic supremacy.

On the other hand, companies will also rationalise their cost to become leaner and more competitive. Managers and supervisors will be forced to reduce costs by trimming the headcount and other expenses. Managing performance in these times becomes more critical from a fairness and generative angle.

Managers and supervisors need a clear and logical performance management process to evaluate and recognise staff performance objectively and openly. Fairness will have a generative effect on all staff's trust, loyalty and motivation.

Adopt the ABCs of performance management to motivate staff performance better.

A is for avoiding surprises and sharing information and feedback on performance earlier rather than later. Let people know what is coming rather than assume they cannot handle the news. Better still, get ideas and discuss how everyone can do their part to strengthen the company. When people have a stake in the decision-making process, they will be more motivated to stick it out.

B is to balance between results and behaviours. Refrain from being fixated on business results and ignoring the company values and desired behaviours in achieving the results. Process matters and how leaders manage the performance and motivate staff will be the driving force to help the company sail through the difficult times. Emphasize desired behaviours and remind people of the common purpose and vision of the company. Use values and vision to bond the people.

C is to coach people to demonstrate resilience and adaptability. Continue to invest in people’s learning and development through coaching them and workplace learning. Be patient with results and use coaching to develop future leaders. As organisations hunker down during coming difficult times, use this opportunity to focus on the desired values and behaviours. Emphasize on the culture and rely on the people to help the organisation not only survive but position itself more robust for the future.


If this is helpful, please share this blog or add your comments below.

Find out more about our Performance Management tools, and how we can help managers and organisations manage appraisals to align, inspire and empower high performance.


Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page